When you think of the Phoenix/Mesa (AZA) area or Arizona in general, your mind might fill with an image of a desert. But, this area is bustling with things to do and unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From flying over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter to poolside cabanas, from hiking to world-class street art, the Valley of the Sun offers all that and then some. But don’t just take our word for it, book your flight out of South Bend International Airport (SBN) on Allegiant to see for yourself.


Looking to experience a unique spin on authentic Mexican food without breaking the bank? Barrio Café is the place to be with dishes to please everyone and table-side guacamole offered during dinner. Top off your meal with a drink at the historic Arizona Distilling Company where history and local spirits collide. This location was Arizona’s first “grain-to-bottle whiskey” producer. The Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey is served at the restaurant where you can get a variety of meals, desserts, go on a tour or even do tastings. Let us not forget that sometimes the camera has to eat first, and with “sushi tacos” often served at many restaurants, this is a foodie must-try. Blending Japanese and Mexican dishes, you can find everything the classic spicy tuna roll to the sushi taco plate at Sushi Sonora.


The Phoenix Zoo is a place you can spend an entire day at and still make plans to come back again. For every person old or young, stopping by the giraffe exhibit is a must. Up-close encounters with the giraffes, sting-rays and camels are sure to provide moments and memories to last a lifetime. Next, make sure to stop by some of the interactive museums. Phoenix boasts the Arizona Science Center where you can even engineer your own plane! On your flight back to South Bend, you can imagine your own plane while you’re up in the sky.


With sunny skies year-round, Arizona is a sports-lovers paradise. The Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, the Arizona Diamondbacks of the MLB and the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL all call the city home. On top of the plethora of professional teams, the greater Phoenix region also boasts two Division I universities. Arizona State University and the University of Arizona have one of the biggest and oldest rivalries in the NCAA and have every sport under the sun, making them perfect destinations for any person.

Explore Outdoors

In Phoenix, you can explore the great outdoors in just about any way possible. Embark on a desert tour with professional guides by jeep, Segway or bike. If you plan ahead and make reservations, you can even horseback through South Mountain Park with Ponderosa Stables. With big groups, you can have cookouts and embark on Sunset rides to the T-Bone Steak House. Although not for the faint of heart, one-of-a-kind views can be achieved by going up into the open air on a hot air balloon ride. Insta worthy moments guaranteed!


For local items galore and all of the Arizona merch you could possibly need, make a stop at Bunky Boutique. For every minimalist, this shop is a dream, with the state outline on t-shirts and cute cacti at every corner. However, if you’re looking for a larger shopping center for name brands, Scottsdale Fashion Square deserves a visit time and time again. With Apple, Gucci, Cartier, Dillard’s and much more, you can find anything you need and then some.